Warwickshire off-spinner Jeetan Patel had cause for double celebration today when he followed up being recalled to New Zealand’s Test squad with winning the Professional Cricketers’ Association Most Valuable Player Rankings for the second time in three years.
Patel, 36, received a cheque for £10,000 for topping the overall PCA MVP which was presented by PCA Assistant Chief Executive Jason Ratcliffe at the Belfry Golf Centre near Birmingham where Patel had organised Warwickshire’s end-of-season Batsmen v Bowlers end-of-season golf match.
Patel, who last played Test cricket in 2013, arrived late, having spent time sorting out a visa at the Indian High Commission in Birmingham, and departed early to fly to Kolkata where he will link up with New Zealand having been summoned as a replacement for the injured Mark Craig ahead of Friday’s second Test.
“To walk away with the PCA MVP and take 69 wickets which is 10 more than I did last year is pretty special. It means I have worked hard, got my rewards and the Warwickshire guys have really helped me out,” Patel said.
“Winning the MVP for the second time in three years is really big. The first time it was about the pat on the back that I never really gave myself.
“I’m a big believer in rocking up to work, doing your job, going home and doing it again the next day. I never really stopped to think I did it well enough.
“It was exciting to win the MVP two years ago but this year is more special because we have struggled as a team on and off the park.
“To have a balanced family life helps and to have the peers around me that I do also helps. I am very lucky to have a bunch of guys who want to do well, they just probably need to be pushed in a different direction to get there.”
Patel moved into contention to win the PCA MVP in mid-season after he took ten wickets in the Specsavers County Championship win over Surrey at Guildford and overhauled Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach who set the early pace.
For the final two weeks of the season it appeared that Patel might be overtaken by Durham’s opening batsman Keaton Jennings but he took a firm grip on the title when he helped Warwickshire win the Royal London One Day Cup at Lord’s by beating Surrey nine days ago.
Patel ended the season with 102 wickets in all formats and topped the PCA MVP Rankings with 564 points, 44 more than Yorkshire all-rounder Tim Bresnan who overtook Jennings to finish as runner-up.
“You can’t help but look at the MVP Rankings especially when the PCA put up such a lovely fund for it and a lot of guys are vying for that position. Maybe my consistency got me over the line,” Patel said.
Patel marked his Warwickshire debut with a maiden first-class century against Yorkshire in 2009 and has just completed his seventh stint with the county having already signed up for 2017.
“I am in a very fortunate position. Warwickshire have given me a new lease on cricket, a life for my family that I would never have had if Warwickshire hadn’t come knocking,” Patel said.
“I’m lucky to be in the position I am in. It’s not that Warwickshire are lucky in any way whatsoever, I am definitely the lucky one here.
“I love playing this game and if I get to play for Warwickshire for as long as I can then it’s a beautiful thing.”
Patel, who turned down the chance to tour the West Indies two years ago to remain with Warwickshire, was surprised to receive a recall by New Zealand but it suggests that his MVP performance have been noted by the Black Caps selectors.
“It’s a massive carrot for me. Whether it’s a pat on the back or Mother Cricket saying: well done mate, you deserve this, I don’t know,” he said.
“But I’m excited. I’m an old boy going into a young and exciting team so they will push me. Even if it is just for two weeks I am happy to step in when someone is ill.
“I suppose it suggests that the selectors have been following my performances in county cricket. The beautiful thing is the game is played worldwide and it’s known worldwide. It’s nice to be looked at but it’s also a little bit daunting , I’m not going to lie.
“I thought my days were over and I didn’t have to worry about international cricket anymore, or the next selection or what I need to do to make the team. I think that as an international cricketer the hardest part of life is being on the fringe of the team. It’s not being in the team, it’s not being out of the team, it’s being on the fringe.
“I’m back on the fringe now. I will go and have some fun. If I play, I play, if I take wickets then I take wickets. But I will be doing the best I can. I have been playing so that probably makes me a bit more of an attractive option than someone else.”